Eloise sat back in her chair and sighed. This would be her final move. It was a hard one, leaving so much behind. But it was time. She thought about her husband of 61 years, Elliot. He’d been gone for a while now but she was managing. He’d always loved that about her: her ability to adapt.
Hands clasped loosely on her lap, legs demurely crossed at the ankle. She had been taught to be a lady but she also knew when not to be. Something else Elliott loved about her. She smiled to herself. As she raised her head, her eyes caught the single cardboard box resting on the edge of the bed. How is it possible for 92 years to fit inside one single box?
There were so many memories. Dipping her toes into three oceans over her lifetime. That midnight buffet on the cruise ship. The smile became a chuckle as she remembered poor Elliot looking for his shoes in a strange motel after a very long night. He had eventually found them in the refrigerator! They had laughed all the way to Albuquerque. Good memories.
There were camping trips with four active and insatiably curious children. And then the children’s children, there seemed to be so many of them. She remembered the strange noises a sleeping child makes and the wild-eyed wonder when they saw something for the first time. Learning to read, learning to walk, learning to slow down. That was always the hard one. But they did it together. Eloise and Elliot. It had lovely ring to it. What a great partnership they had. And that partnership didn’t die when he did. She slept with a pair of his gloves under her pillow. He was never far from her.
She relaxed a little more into the chair, resting her tired shoulders. And she cast her mind back over her 92 years. She had earned her rest. Her memories of her childhood were all good. She’d had loving parents who had taught her to love the world and to respect what it offered. She had grown up with wonderful pets who had taught her humility and selflessness. She had friends who taught her the art of compromise and acceptance and French kissing. Yes, she had learned how to laugh early. And she laughed often. She had reason.
They had traveled the world together. Elliott was a wonderful traveler. Except for the shoes. When the children had come along they were initiated into that world. First traveling near at home and then farther and farther as they grew older and more capable of appreciating it. And then they too caught the bug. The world was theirs to explore.
As time inexorably moved on so did the children. And then she and Elliot rediscovered the wonders of each other. It was like a second honeymoon and they enjoyed it for many years. Oh, the children came back to visit. In the beginning it was quite often but as their lives became more and more complicated, that too dwindled off. That was to be expected.
Most of the children and grandchildren made it back for Elliot’s funeral. It was good to see them, to get reacquainted. But they had their own lives to get back to and in time Eloise was again alone. That was okay. She had much to occupy her. She had quite a vibrant social life and plenty of friends to keep her company. But there were adjustments. She moved to a condominium and hired a cleaning service. There were even a few male companions who were interested in more than just companionship. They were proper gentlemen when she refused. Her heart still belonged to Elliot. Besides he hadn’t been gone that long. But it was nice to have a man around to escort her to a dance.
The box caught her eye once again. It seem to beckon to her and to mock her. It was her box of treasures, precious memories, tokens worth more than any precious jewel ever could be. A single tear escaped her eye. She felt sad and more than a little proud. She wondered about the next step in her life. What was still to come? She closed her eyes.
The door burst open! A tall, young man, strode aggressively into the room.
“Where the hell is the damn thing?”
A few seconds behind him an equally tall woman sashayed into the room somewhat less aggressively.
“They said it was on the end of the bed and you could pick it up at your leisure. I think it’s important. What do you plan on doing with?”
The man became a little less forceful as he spotted the single cardboard box just where he had been told it would be.
“It’s just some old trinkets. What possible value could it have? “